Every year, as the monsoon sets over Hyderabad, the same situation plays out – waterlogging and complete inundation of roads followed by long traffic jams, some which may even result in commuters taking three hours to travel 3 km. This year seems no different, as officials who said that they were prepared to handle the rains, seem to have overlooked many areas, especially in the city's IT sector; commonly known as Cyberabad.
The waterlogging as a result of the rain is so severe, that the traffic police have issued advisories on alternate routes to take, recommending that commuters avoid several arterial roads in the city.
CTP advise taking alternative routes to avoid traffic jams during rains. pic.twitter.com/9DiPGDmnFx— CYBERABAD TRAFFIC (@CYBTRAFFIC) June 25, 2019
CTP advise taking alternative routes to avoid traffic jams during rains. pic.twitter.com/y82baqp1J7— CYBERABAD TRAFFIC (@CYBTRAFFIC) June 25, 2019
CTP advise taking alternative routes to avoid traffic jams during rains. pic.twitter.com/5wnwlCf487— CYBERABAD TRAFFIC (@CYBTRAFFIC) June 25, 2019
CTP advise taking alternative routes to avoid traffic jams during rains. pic.twitter.com/v9N1idutf2— CYBERABAD TRAFFIC (@CYBTRAFFIC) June 25, 2019
So, what are the causes of Hyderabad’s waterlogging woes and who is to blame?
One of the main issues according to urban planners and activists is rapid urbanisation in the city, especially in the IT corridor, where an area that was once dotted with towering rocks and large lakes, have been flattened to give way to skyscrapers and high-rises.
This negligence by successive governments, without considering the topography of the area, is one of the main reasons, say activists.
In May this year, Forum for Good Governance wrote to Governor ESL Narasimhan, over the rampant illegal constructions in the last decade in Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Speaking to TNM, FGG Secretary M Padmanabha Reddy said, "By GHMC's own admission, there are at least 1.2 lakh illegal constructions in the city. This is due to a combination of factors; the greediness of citizens, the corrupt attitude of municipal officials and apathetic politicians."
The activist, who retired as a senior bureaucrat, also blames faulty planning for the flooding in the IT corridor.
Taking the example of constant inundation that the road outside Shilparamam near the city's Cyber Towers sees, he says, "The planning itself was faulty. The government knew that several lakh employees would travel every day to the area, but still proper planning was not done."
"The Cyber Towers flyover and the T junction are located higher, while the area outside Shilparamam is lower. There used to be a natural stream that used to flow into a small lake nearby, which has now been blocked. As a result, the water piles up," he adds.
The Cyberabad Traffic Police have also acknowledged the issue. In a press note earlier this week, authorities said, "Approximately, half an hour of waterlogging at Shilparamam would lead to congestion at Kothaguda, Botanical gardens and Gachibowli for almost 2 to 3 hours. It would take 2 to 3 hours of hard work by traffic police in regulating and normalising the traffic."
Another reason cited for the issue is inadequate desilting by the GHMC. While the municipal body claims to have undertaken a serious desilting exercise ahead of the monsoon, it clearly isn't enough, say experts.
Arguing that a 'permanent solution' is required, Dr LH Rao, a Hyderabad-based civil engineer, says, "The desilting needs to be done sincerely. With constructions coming up everywhere and road widening also in progress at various places in the city, there is an increased flow of surface runoff, which needs to be addressed."
"Another issue is that stormwater drains are dysfunctional. Though they have built a network of drains, there is no proper inlet into the canal. The entry often gets covered up and as a result, water is not going inside. Instead it flows into sewer lines and this is why sewage overflows onto the street," he adds.
Rao also points out that the entire length of the stormwater drain must be checked ahead of the monsoon, as structures also encroach on the drains and block the flow of water.
Another major issue, that even the GHMC admits to, is construction debris. It is a common sight to stack up sand, cement and bricks outside an upcoming structure. All this, gets swept into the drains and adds to the silt, when the city witnesses showers.
"It’s an effort that should span across the whole year and not just a few months before and during monsoon. Though the authorities are aware of it, they are not acting enough. Instead, they just panic and break dividers when it rains to drain out the water. Repairing the damage they do, is only additional cost on the state exchequer," Rao adds.
Meanwhile, the GHMC has issued a list of 123 points in the city where major waterlogging is taking place. 495 monsoon teams have also been deployed on the streets of the city to ensure smooth flow of traffic and water pumps have been arranged to drain out water in case of stagnation.